Commodity price hedging is a popular trading strategy frequently used by oil and gas producers and heavy consumers of energy commodities, such as airlines, to protect themselves against market fluctuations.
During times of falling crude prices, oil producers normally use a short hedge to lock in oil prices if they believe prices are likely to go even lower in the future, while heavy consumers like airlines do the exact opposite, hedge against rising oil prices, which could quickly eat into their profits.
Nearly all of an airline’s costs are somewhat predictable, except one: the short-term costs of fuel. Fuel is typically the biggest line item in an airline’s expense book and can account for nearly a third of total operating costs.
Two years ago, many large carriers ditched their oil hedges after suffering massive losses due to persistently low oil prices. But with oil prices constantly taking out multi-year highs, they have now been forced to reverse course and are hedging aggressively, with brokers reporting the busiest spell of consumer hedging in years.
And, there is growing evidence that fuel hedges are working as they should this time around.
Hedging is paying off
Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) and Alaska Airlines (NYSE:ALK) are the only major United States carriers that have consistently hedged the cost of jet fuel.
Southwest is the only large United State airline that is also a low-cost carrier, and fuel accounts for a third of its operating costs. The airline began hedging its fuel costs in the early 1990s after crude prices spiked during the first Gulf War and has religiously hedged through thick and thin.
Southwest aims to hedge at least 50 per cent of Southwest’s fuel costs each year and exclusively use call options and call spreads. Company’s treasurer, Chris Monroe, and his team trade crude-oil derivatives as a proxy for jet fuel. They deal with some of Wall Street’s shrewdest commodity-trading desks, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and seven more traders.
Southwest lost money on its hedges between 2015 and 2017, but this year oil hedges are paying off big-time for the Texas-based carrier.
According to The Financial Times, a crack team of four fuel traders at Southwest Airlines has managed to save the company a whopping $1.2 billion this year through smart hedging. Orchestrated by the company’s treasurer, Chris Monroe, and his team, Southwest hedges have slashed its fuel costs by 70 cents to between $3.30 and $3.40 a gallon this quarter, the carrier disclosed in a recent trading update. Southwest has pegged the fair market value of its fuel-derivative contracts for this year at $1.2 billion.
While oil prices have climbed 40 per cent in the year-to-date, middle distillates have seen an even bigger surge: jet fuel recently traded as high as ~$320/b in New York ($7.61/gallon), a massive ~$200+ premium to crude feedstock prices.
The jet fuel premium is ~10x larger than any premium seen in the past 30 years. Southwest’s hedges must have shielded the company from some major price shocks.
“Our fuel hedge is providing excellent protection against rising energy prices and significantly offsets the market price increase in jet fuel in first quarter 2022,” Southwest CFO Tammy Romo said on the carrier’s first-quarter earnings call.
Southwest is just one of many companies looking to protect themselves from high oil prices. Over the past few months, there has been a renewed appetite from many airlines as well as an influx of first-timers, including Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), as well as trucking and manufacturing firms.
“We’re also very fortunate that for the next 12 months, we’re very well hedged on fuel. I would ascribe that more to dumb luck than supremely intelligent management. But nevertheless, we have 80% of our fuel purchased forward out to March 2023 at less than $70 per barrel,” Ryanair Holdings Plc (NASDAQ:RYAAY) CEO Michael O’Leary revealed during the company’s latest earnings call.
To be sure, hedging in the current market can be expensive, thanks to the red-hot demand for hedging products. Those higher hedging costs have been accentuated by a lack of liquidity in recent months, making it harder to find counterparties and agree on prices. But with oil prices unlikely to come down any time soon, heavy oil users are left with little choice but to hedge or risk paying billions more in extra fuel costs.
By: Alex Kimani
Kimani reports for Oilprice.com
NTVOA Promotes 24hr-Online Operations On Faulty Vehicles
The National Towing Vehicles Owners Association (NTVOA) has commenced consultation with security agencies and stakeholders in the transport logistics chain system on the best way to respond promptly to rescue articulated vehicles parked along major roads and highways nationwide through digitalisation .
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) affiliate association said plans are already afoot to introduce an app designed to respond swiftly to brokendown vehicles in furtherance to ensure free flow of traffic.
NTVOA said it will test-run the app in Lagos when completed due to the predominant and peculiar nature of traffic, noting that the technological device would take the form of “Uber”
In a chat with the National Secretary of NTVOA, Comrade Sylvester Afonughe in Ogun State, he noted that the move would be an all inclusive app through which security agencies will also be alerted in line with the technological innovation .
He said the operation when completed will encourage faster response to vehicles with technical hitches to be evacuated from the roads.
The scribe sad aggressive campaigns and sensitization mechanism would be put in place to enable stakeholders understand how to use the app upon completion.
Afonughe, an engineer and the Business Relationship Manager, Moniepoint, affirmed that: “It looks tasking, no doubt, but that is what we are looking at as a union because we have already commenced consultation for the website which will operate like Uber or O Pay in nature.
He said the union is also resolved to key into the automation system as part of efforts to address human contact and to promote seamless operations in modern day transport technology.
“We are looking at how we can improve on our operations because it is what I single-handedly initiated under the stable of my organization, then the national can take it up from there.
“So many factors are also considered in this project because we are looking at 24 hours online real time operations because we cannot rule out night activities.
“Security is key here so these are the things we are looking at because we need to carry security agencies along because security must not be compromises when we kick start this project.
By; Nkemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
NIWA Provides Waterways Ambulance For Search, Rescue
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has introduced a new ambulance boat to serve the Lagos waters.
Disclosing this in a statement made available to our correspondent in lagos, NIWA said “The decision to introduce the new ambulance was in response to critical empowerment of the search and rescue team in Lagos, and as strategic fulfilment to suggestions made by the cream of maritime media at a recent parley with the Managing Director of NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu .
“Dr. Moghalu noted that the new craft fitted with amber lights and two 175 Horse Power engines by Yamaha, with cream colour leather interior, fitted with medical equipment, first aid boxes, communication system and stretchers, will form the fulcrum rapid response to accidents on Lagos waterways.
“Rugged and built to ferry accident victims and those who require immediate medical attention to the nearest hospital and Medical Hold Bay, the ambulance watercraft can travel at controlled timing without fear or anxieties of being buffeted by high impact waves”, it stated.
By: Nkemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
CBN Raises Savings Interest To 4.2%
Bank customers in the country are now to be paid more interest on their savings after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reviewed upward minimum interest payable to 30 per cent of the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR).
At its last meeting in July, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the CBN had raised MPR to 14 per cent due to the persistent rise in inflation rate in the country.
The upward review of interest on savings was stated in a circular signed by the CBN Director, Banking Supervision, Haruna Mustafa, and issued to all banks dated August 15, 2022.
With the new circular, banks are expected to increase interest rate on savings from 10 per cent of MPR to 30 per cent of MPR with effect from August 1, 2022.
Consequently, bank customers can now earn up to 4.2 per cent, which is 30 per cent of the 14 per cent MPR as against 1.4 per cent, which was 10 per cent of the MPR.
According to The Tide’s source, the circular states in part: “It will be recalled that as part of the efforts to ameliorate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Central Bank of Nigeria reduced the minimum interest rates payable on local currency savings deposits from 30 per cent to 10 per cent of the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR).
“This was aimed at stimulating growth in the larger economy following the economic slowdown occasioned by the pandemic.
“However, following the return to full normalcy and considering the prevailing macroeconomic conditions, it has become necessary to effect an upward adjustment of the interest rate payable on local currency savings deposits.
“Accordingly, effective August 1, 2022, the negotiable minimum interest rate on local currency savings deposits shall be 30 per cent of MPR. This supersedes our letter dated September 1, 2020, referenced BSD/DIR/GEN/LAB/13/052 on the subject.”
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